There’s a saying in Canadian politics: “Liberal, Tory, same old story.”
It’s proven so true over the years that it could reasonably be called a maxim.
But don’t tell that to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who opened a new offensive yesterday in his party’s increasingly desperate battle for left-wing votes.
“Shame on you, Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul, for pretending that there’s no difference between Liberals and Conservatives,” he said during a Toronto-area campaign stop. “Canadians know better. Progressive Canadians know better.”
The Liberal leader wasn’t just critical of the NDP and Green leaders, however. He also lashed out at left-of-centre voters he feels aren’t giving his government enough credit.
“To pretend that we haven’t done anything on fighting against climate change over the past six years, that we haven’t done anything on fighting racism, that we haven’t done anything on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, that’s not progressive,” he lectured. “That’s cynical.”
Having thus insulted left-wing voters, Trudeau rolled out some new messaging reminiscent of the Conservatives’ unsuccessful “Stephen Harper isn’t perfect” Hail Mary in the 2015 campaign.
“Yes, we need to do more,” he admitted. “I’m the first to say that.”
The Liberal leader and the online adherents of his personality cult are trying to save their fading empire by repeating the tired assertion that a vote for the NDP or Greens is somehow a vote for the Conservatives.
But they’re only in a position to do that because Trudeau broke his 2015 campaign promise to end first-past-the-post voting in Canada.
Talk about cynical.
The truth is, when you strip away all the performative gestures and all the hollow rhetoric, you find a Liberal government that has done some things in the spirit of progress but many more things in the service of neoliberalism.
For example, progressive governments don’t buy an oil pipeline during a climate crisis.
They don’t abandon major, game-changing commitments like universal pharmacare.
They don’t act as sock puppets for U.S. foreign policy in anti-democratic bodies like the Lima Group.
They don’t fuel a war and a humanitarian crisis in Yemen by permitting arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
And they don’t allow First Nations communities to go without clean drinking water, or take Indigenous children to court.
Progressive Canadians know better than to trust you on these and many other issues, Mr. Trudeau.
Shame on you for pretending there’s no difference between leftists and Liberals.